Campaigners warn of “huge backlash” if government rewrites rules on fracking

Fracking opponents have warned of a “huge backlash” if the government agrees to industry demands for new rules to make shale gas production quicker and easier.

Demonstration outside Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road shale gas site, 20 October 2018. Photo: RodHarbinson.com

Frack Free Lancashire, which opposed Cuadrilla’s operations in the county, said this evening the industry could not operate within the current regulations and now needed to “rewrite the rules”.

It also accused shale gas companies of “disrespecting” local communities and “disregarding” the environment.

The government announced last Thursday that it was lifting the moratorium on fracking in England, that has been in place since 2019.

Now the industry is repeating previous calls for ministers to go further and relax the regulations controlling fracking-induced earthquakes and change the planning system for shale gas.

Charles McAllister, director of policy at the industry lobbying group, UKOOG, has warned that if the industry did “not get the comprehensive policy support required, then some of the companies may not progress.”

His organisation is calling for the fracking industry to be subject to the same rules on earthquakes as construction, geothermal, quarrying and coal mining.

The earthquake regulations, known as the traffic light system (TLS), require fracking to pause if it causes tremors measuring more than 0.5 on the local magnitude (ML) scale.

The industry agreed to the 0.5ML limit after fracking by Cuadrilla caused earthquakes at Preese Hall in Lancashire in 2011 and led to the first moratorium.

But in the past four years, the industry has repeatedly called for a relaxation of the TLS.

In October 2018, Cuadrilla’s chief executive, Francis Egan, told the FT the traffic light system risked “strangling” the shale gas industry.  He called for the 0.5ML threshold to be raised and referred to limits of up to 4.5ML used in other countries.

Cuadrilla’s fracking operations at Preston New Road, also in Lancashire, in 2018 and 2019 led to a series of small earthquakes, some of which breached the 0.5ML limit. The largest, in August 2019, measured 2.9ML and was felt across the Fylde region.

Barbara Richardson, of Frack Free Lancashire said:

“This just proves what this industry is capable of. When things don’t go their way they want to change the rules to suit their own ends. They know they cannot operate within the current regulations, which they themselves helped write after the 2012 moratorium, so they now need to rewrite the rules.

“The traffic light system thresholds were set to protect communities and the environment. No-one can predict what impact or damage will be caused especially below ground. One must remember that fracking involves thousands of wells not just one or two. Imagine the impact of multiple wells being fracked at the same time in the same area.”

Before becoming prime minister, Liz Truss, said “fracking will take place only in areas with a clear public consensus behind it”.

But in recent days, the industry has restated earlier calls to declare shale gas projects as nationally-significant infrastructure. This means decisions would be made by a government-appointed planning inspector or minister, rather than local authorities.

Barbara Richardson said:

“PM Truss said they will only agree to fracking with community support, yet already the industry is trying to circumvent this by changing the planning rules because they know they will never get local support especially once people realise what fracking really entails and all the adverse impacts it has on those very communities. 

“This does not even take account of the cumulative impact of methane emissions and our ability to reach our net zero. 

“This is the wrong place, wrong time and wrong direction and the industry is trying to take us for fools. Don’t forget they are in it for profit not for the people.

“The government can expect a huge backlash should they even consider such moves.”

In April 2022, the Johnson government commissioned a review of the science of fracking from the British Geological Survey.

The report was submitted to government in early July but has not been published.

Nick Danby, of Frack Free Lancashire, said:

“It is hard to know which is more astonishing: the utter disrespect for local communities or the reckless disregard for the environment.

“Either way, the Truss administration is very clearly and actively pursuing a fracking agenda despite there being no evidence that it can be done safely, and absolutely no evidence that fracking can in any way alleviate the present economic crisis.

“How many more times do we need to say that it would take years and many hundreds of wells to make any meaningful contribution to the UK energy mix and, furthermore, the fact that it is produced domestically does not give us cheaper gas as the price is set on the international markets?

“We have fought this for many years and will continue to do so. Fracking will never have any social licence and it is clear that a moratorium was an insufficient restraint. We now need a permanent and immediate ban before the environmental crisis grows any deeper.”

DrillOrDrop’s review of a decade of shale gas in the UK

44 replies »

  1. The biggest harm man made damage to environment was caused by cutting down RAIN FORESTS and JUNGLES – not by British population today . U may want to wear a straw shirt and act like a medieval flagellants i wont

    I will continue driving 4 LTR XK8 jaguar [edited by moderator] – My right and any i have the right to challenge extinction rebellion head on

    hmm i wonder want substances they use to make batteries and wind turbines hmm. Germany screwed because they went for the big bang technique by closing down all nuclear power stations without anything in place to replace it that was consistently reliable . WELL DONE and now we have climate change fanatics wanting to do the same thing here


  2. i also have the right to protest against EXTINCTION REBELLION , [edited by moderator] and against CLIMATE CHANGE POLICIES that r destroying UK economy

    If it wasnt for libdem in coaltion and labour when they were in power blocking Nuclear – we would have more nuclear now

    • What’s destroying the UK and pretty much the entire world is the insatiable need for economic greed where all life both flaura and fauna has a monetary value even down to the air we breath. XR have been monumental in making people realise that when governments only focus on economic value the inhabitants of earth will pay a very heavy price which will ultimately be our species downfall as we’ve already seen by the sheer lack of apathy and cooperation.

        • Whilst the moderator may withdraw your baseless and claims on climate change, nonsensical arguments, I choose to go on historical records and peered reviewed papers by the people who have dedicated many years of research and who are accredited with the knowledge and understanding of ecological systems and furthermore, have no monetary gain from speaking up about the danming situation that is unfolding in front of our very own eyes.
          Thinking needs to change as do practices, The population is a major problem but it is by far not the only problem.
          Investment in education and practical solutions has to be stepped up dramatically, spending money on things like HS2 which will be in the region of 100 billion is by far the least sensible thing to do. If that money had been invested in projects of sustainability and setting up other programs for example other college’s like CAT (Center for Alternative Technology) that would benefit us and future generations, that’s where we should be heading, it is regarded that the fossil fuel industry is dinosaur technology and we simply have to move away from it. The problems we’re facing can no longer be dealt with using that technology and investing in it is futile and unnecessary.
          You and other supporters of that industry need to look with better eyes now.

          • u have not answered the question what happens when turbines cannot generate wind and there is not enough sun generated solor UK

            I assume u will get that power from the #MAGIC ENERGY tree [edited by moderator]
            I u want to moan about climate change then i suggest u go to the countries that have cut down the rainforests and jungles ( or do u want a lesson in photosythseis – since they are natural sources of carbon capture)

            and the blog respose can from Scottish power so i suggest u tell them they r liars re wind power in UK and europe in 2020/21

            [Edited by moderator] – are u expect the old and others to die of cold if they cant generate electricity if not enough wind and solar power available . The battery capacity is not there – and i assume u know the countries that supply lithium including china and africa in places like the congo

          • Oh, I look with better eyes now, One. They are supplemented with spectacles and most of the material in them come from?? Fossil fuel!

            Then, if my eyes are okay but I need help with my breathing, then I can rely on production of artificial rubber to help me with my breathing. Guess where that comes from??

            (By the way, I know quite a few scientists and I have yet to find one that does research for no monetary gain.)

            Perhaps you could enlighten me on which of the scientific researchers was correct about growing crops for fueling cars? The group who initially stated it was a way of reducing the carbon footprint, and then some years later after £billions had been wasted, that could have been invested in CATs, the group who turned around and stated, it wasn’t? Perhaps the money wasted on Cash for Ash, all without a desire for monetary gain (LOL), could have been invested in CATs?

            I await the outcry when the Green levy is removed from energy bills in UK! I am sure it will be so deafening that most will be unable to hear it.

          • What You mean you want suppress anyone that has a different point of view on climate change and fossil fuels then you

            and ban those who only have a CSE or an OLEVEL in ENGLISH Language from having an opinion . TBH i have seen a worse standard of ENGLISH from those leaving university and they have spent 40k and more for the priviledge plus tax payer funding . Since uk student pay far less then foreign students

  3. Peer-reviewed public health studies report that living close to active fracking sites increases the incidence of:
    childhood acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, acute attacks of asthma, strokes, heart- attacks and heart-failure, premature and low birth weights, adverse birth outcomes including major congenital anomalies, severe neonatal morbidity and increased neonatal mortality, vasculitis, chronic rhino-sinusitis, migraine headaches, fatigue, and increased maternal stress levels.

    • Dr Rugman. please provide links for these peer reviewed studies to enable people to see them, thanks. Best regards Vincent Booth.

    • I would like to see how neutral these people are pre report and when did they have an agenda against fracking in the first

      Dr Frank Rugman and co may like to explain what happens if u cut all gas , and rely only on current uk turbines and solar power and no nuclear and not reliant on any gas or nuclear or oil from elsewhere (because that would be hypocrisy on their part if they do accept imports from elsewhere)

      Then imagine right not enough solar power and wind turbine on a given day and there is a power cut – what do u expect to happen then

    • And, living in UK in fuel poverty causes multiple health issues with mortality rates rising in years with cold winters.

      Of course, for the well off, not an issue.

      The only peer reviewed public health studies regarding living near to active fracking sites do not come from the UK. There are plenty of peer reviewed studies regarding other issues in USA which are not translated to UK. For those who think alternatives offer a risk- free existence, wait for when there are peer reviewed studies for living near Chernobyl!

  4. Perhaps u like to give a link to these studies so we can check if they have an agenda and where they get their financing from

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